Dining with Chef Ken means flavour bombs in every bite.
On any Monday night, when most restaurants are closed, a dozen or so intrepid young foodies, friends, lovers or strangers file in to Chef Ken Yau’s pop up dinner party. They are prepared to be surprised, educated and delighted with the food and wine pairings (or BYOB) as well as the company. With excellent credentials, a sense of humour and winning ways, Ken entertains, cooks and serves a multi course dining experience of small bites. His raison d’etre: cooking and sharing food with friends at a private supper club in the East end.
Each dish is a flavour bomb: perila leaf, pear, shiso leaf, salted plum, chili enhances the two tartars, beef and tuna, and fish skin roasted in green tea. A crisp puffy chicken skin acts as a ladle for beet, rhubarb and buckwheat honey. He fills a glass domed plate with fragrant smoke that flavours Swedish lumpfish caviar to pile on duck confit, crumbed with prawn chips and deep fried in duck fat. Ambrosial caramelized onion soup poured over a tiny bag of fresh parsley comes with perfect toasts with onion, brown butter and Madiera.
An amusing surprise is a small plate of paper strips scented with Yuzu essential oil. Breathe deeply and let the perfume fill your palate, then slide a fresh oyster into you mouth. Wow.
Between courses, Ken recalls Monday evenings past when strangers became friends and made plans to meet again. Or one couple who realized, while sharing a luscious plate of seafood, that they had much in common and began dating.
And there is more: cauliflower pureed with vanilla; butter poached scallops and king mushrooms, followed by a serving of prawns, calamari and jelly poached salmon. Ginger, garlic and burned soy add some magic to simple bok choy. We are expecting the unexpected for dessert, and we get it: panna cotta and a fish-shaped pastry filled with duck egg. In the spirit of fun, we’re offered a plate with a dry chicken wishbone and a small and a larger coconut sweet. Turn to your table mate, break the wishbone, and the winner gets the larger piece. But, in fact, we have all been winners this evening.
There go my Monday nights. Book direct: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.